The List: A Love Story in 781 Chapters

Aneva Stout, Author . Workman $12.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-7611-4216-4

Stout's debut novel is a clever hybrid of meta-fiction and gift book: this slim, illustrated hardcover is a love story composed entirely of second-person affirmation-style list entries, none more than two or three dozen words. The result offers all the guilty pleasures of chick lit—the snarky humor of a good glossy magazine and the soothing cadences of a girl-loses-boy-girl-finds-boy-girl-dumps-boy plot—with a precise breakdown of the newest behemoth genre which, at its best, refines the form to poetic abstraction without sacrificing readability: "248. You'll wonder how he keeps his bathroom tile so sparkling. 249. He'll say, 'Are you okay?' 250. You'll say, 'Don't stop!' " It can grate when its heroine (you) hews too close to cliché, but Stout generally avoids easy laughs at her character's/audience's expense. Though brief, the book has enough drama, emotional resonance and sharp throw-away lines ("333. You'll look in his closet. 334. You'll find something you wish you hadn't. a. A closet that's neater than your living room. b. Twister. c. A videotape labeled: Aruba. ") to make it worth revisiting, either in part or whole. Simultaneously, the "high art" fiction conceit reinvigorates the "low-art" gift-book genre it appropriates—not a major achievement (à la The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay or Lorrie Moore's Self-Help ), but no small feat either. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/27/2006
Release date: 00/00/0000
Open Ebook - 250 pages - 978-0-7611-7264-2
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